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Google Legal Update: Who Painted That Target On Our Back?

What better way to get back from your Labor Day weekend break than to hear about more Google legal concerns. This time there is a mix of the old and the new as an old nemesis shows up in Texas while the online travel industry has some questions about Google proposed purchase of ITA Software. By the way, Google is hiring law related talent so this is a “growth” area for the search giant ;-).

First we are revisited by the group headed by the vertical search engine, Foundem. You remember these guys, right? They were given editorial space in the New York Times to rant about the unfairness of Google’s algorithm. Well, if you can’t succeed in Europe and your pleas go unheard in the NY Times the next obvious stop is Texas. Yup, Texas.

Techdirt tells us

Late Friday, the news broke that Texas’ AG was “investigating” Google for antitrust violations, using the trio of companies that have been mentioned for a while now — Foundem, MyTriggers and TradeComet — who have all been making a stink about how Google is somehow violating antitrust laws because those three sites don’t like their rankings in Google. All three claim that they’re competitors to Google, and Google is somehow trying to hold them down. This is, frankly, ridiculous. As has been explained over and over again, rankings are an opinion, protected by free speech rights. And, furthermore, if Google was really trying to keep competitors down, wouldn’t it actually focus on players that actually matter in the space?

Couldn’t have said it better myself so I won’t. Why can’t these guys just go away? Where will this tired act show up next time? Singapore? Tasmania? One of the former USSR “ikstans”?

The second legal inquiry is being started as Google’s purchase of ITA Software is making the online travel space antsy thus inviting regulators to have a closer “look-see”.

The Wall Street Journal reports

The Justice Department is trying to determine whether Google Inc. would gain too much sway over the online travel industry by acquiring ITA Software Inc., which powers the Web’s most popular airline-ticket search and booking sites, said people familiar with the department’s review.

The merger investigation is at an early stage, but according to people familiar with the situation, Justice antitrust authorities are focusing on two potential areas of concern: whether rivals would continue to have access to ITA’s data and whether Google would unfairly steer Web searchers to its own travel services.

Whether this inquiry has any merit is up for debate but since it’s so early let’s save the debate for another time.

I am not a lawyer, I have never played one on TV and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night so I have no interest in getting into the details here. In fact, I am of the belief that unless there is really some smoke then giving companies like Foundem any more free publicity isn’t worth the time or effort.

If you like this kind of stuff join the Google legal team. It looks like there will be plenty of job security there.

  • http://www.DesertMountainHomesOnline.com Carmen Brodeur

    I can’t believe the Texas AG has that much time on their hands. Sounds like someone wants attention and publicity. The whole premise is ridiculous. Sounds like those 3 companies should spend more time on SEO and less time on whining.

    • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

      @Carmen – I agree. That has been the response by most people but the folks at Foundem in particular have decided that this is the best way for them to get attention in the marketplace. Not exactly text book strategy and probably not very effective but welcome to the new world order!

      Thanks for stopping by and checking in!

  • http://www.tmprod.com/index.php Joe

    I’ve read several other articles that link Foundem to Microsoft. Let’s face it, if every single company felt Google was ranking them unfairly, there wouldn’t be a company not trying to attack Google legally. The top is sure lonely, and by sitting up there Google has to understand the problems that come with the number one spot.